Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Big Nasty Castle

I do enjoy drawing big nasty castles when I get the chance.
I got a great opportunity last year when I drew the Harnic castle Benedes.
This castle was built and run by the Agrikans- a religion that worships the evil, fiery, god of war.
The geography and mapping were quite complex, so I definitely was not going to be able to draw this one out of my head.
As is typically done, I was given the maps and a brief description to work from. Usually each floor is mapped out in a top down view. I also get a map of the land on which it is located. Of course all of this stuff goes into the article as well. The maps are always well done, easy to read and great to work from.
Copyright © 2011, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek

In the olden times (5 years ago)  I would build a model out of foam core, balsa wood and cardboard. A pretty time intensive process, though I love building models from scratch. Once it was done, I would take it outside in the sun to get the lighting I wanted. I would shoot a ton of photos and do the drawing from the best view.
Nebulon Keep, article illustrated for Kerry Mould.
You can download the full article here-

Not only did building the models from scratch take a lot of time but they were not easy to change if you needed to fix something. Occasionally things will be rewritten or the may be an area that is just not possible if you follow the map.
Now I use a free online 3-D program called Google Sketchup.
Here is Benedes done in Sketch-up. Kerry Mould, one of the writers, helped model some of the mountain and part of the temple for me. I did the keep and added all the details needed to execute the drawing.
Copyright © 2011, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek
Copyright © 2011, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek
The nice thing is once you make the 3D model you can set the lighting, choose time of day and even pick an time of year. You can rotate all around the model to find the perfect view. Sketch-up is pretty easy to learn and there are a lot of stock models already online in user library called the Sketchup Warehouse. I occasionally grab another model and just adjust it to my needs. One problem is that if you are like me you can go a bit crazy on the model doing all kinds of detail that is just not needed for the illustration. It is a fun program to play with. There are a lot of good tutorials on You Tube to watch as well. In the image above you can see the catapult on the tower. I built that for another project. As you build, you can save parts as components which will be stored in a folder that you can choose from in other models. So, now I just select my catapult model and place it anywhere.
Copyright © 2011, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek
Above is the illustration I did using the digital model as a guide. With alchemical shops and lots of weapons being crafted there, I wanted it to look like a factory. So there is a lot of smoke billowing forth.
I added details to the image that I thought would fit the description of the religious group. The crenelation at the top of the wall is sharp and pointy like flames. In the article there was a description of the warriors having developed medieval alchemical weapons. These grenade-type devices are thrown from the walls at the attacking enemy. I designed an arrow loop that would work with the grenades. Actual arrow loops built into castle walls to allow maximum protection to the archers inside the castle, while allowing a good view of the attackers. You may have seen these arrow slots shaped like a cross with larger openings at the ends- for that full range- and of course it had the added benefit of looking like a crucifix. A powerful religious symbol.  Two of the symbols of the Agrikans are the  mace and the octagon. I was able to design a pretty simple shape that is both a cool symbol and is functional for dropping grenades. The shape has the look of an upside down mace shape the head of which is also an octagon- very clever huh?
Copyright © 2011, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek
The side diagram on the right was not in the article, but is something I sketched out for myself. I figured there would be some sort of stone carved trough  inside where the warrior could set the grenade and just let it roll out on to the attackers below. The head of the mace spits forth these fiery exploding weapons. It could also be used for arrows, but grenades are way cooler.
You can purchase Benedes from Columbia Games here.